21st Century Literacies

No different than a baseball manager changing hitters to face the incoming left-handed pitcher, students are keenly aware of the averages: the more education, the greater the prospects of income, health and choice 1. They enroll to earn credentials, and with any luck discover something to care about and nurture. But are credentials enough? Sufficient? Obviously, no.

As an effective educator you express your passion through learning, a lifelong process of attention, priority, and discovery. Likewise, our students must acquire the skills and literacies to support a lifetime. Knowing how to manage personal knowledge. Knowing how to participate in learning networks. And, yes, knowing how to learn, and what it means to be information literate. Using the library to support your curriculum marks a beginning. Here are a few suggestions that, with any luck, will encourage your students to grab their education by its lapels:

  • Include readings from libraries’ vast collection of online subscriptions
  • Move beyond Google by incorporating specialized vertical search engines and deep Web resources
  • Order texts to support projects and service based learning
  • Invite a librarian to speak with your group about search strategies, and
  • Encourage students to consume information critically and become their own editors.

An education is something one develops, grows and maintains, something that our students themselves are ultimately responsible for 2.


  1. The Economist. “A college education is good for your well-being and your wallet.” ^
  2. Downes, Stephan. “The Robot Teachers.” Half an Hour. 2 Sept. 2012. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. ^